In 2017, Mexico was hit by a major earthquake. The city’s cathedral bearing the Altar of Kings, known to be the largest and most spectacular building if its kind in Latin America, was damaged and authorities wanted to assess the damage.

Restoration and repair on the cathedral are not new however, this time, the cathedrals restoration team did not rely on ladders and pulleys. Instead, the cathedral restoration team invited US-based digital scanning experts, CyArk, to survey and digitally record parts of the cathedral.

One of the areas of the cathedral that were checked for damages was the majestic gilded screen, retablo dos reyes. The digital survey was done through the use of cameras at ground level and some that were attached to drones.

This method allowed the cathedral’s restoration team to inspect the cracks and damages behind the high altar.

The digital scanning method is an important tool that can play a big role in preserving different heritage sites around the world.

John Ristevski, chairman and CEO of CyArk, pointed out that the technology they are using can be of great use especially for incidents such as the recent fire that consumed the spire of Notre Dame. The CEO added that a team from Vassar and Columbia University had scanned the Notre Dame digitally several years ago.

The new digital models and the data behind them were released in partnership with Google Art and Culture platform. The information can be downloaded by academics, architects, engineers, developers, and teachers.

All models including the Greek temple to Apollo, a medieval Syrian hospital, the roof of Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC, and the early Christian chapel of Ananias in Damascus can also be explored by anyone who is curious and would like to take a virtual reality tour into some of the world’s heritage sites.

Ristevski explained the importance of the digital scans they provide is the very accurate 3D models that resulted from the scans. These can be converted into construction drawings that can assist in the physical reconstruction of the monument.

This method ensures the precise preservation of the intricate and ornate details.

CyArk has documented over 200 sites around the world since 2001. The company CEO expressed plans to release the data online which is a great opportunity to share it with the public

Digital scanning and 3D modeling allow access to the site that is currently off-limits.

Ristevski pointed out that connectivity data would require a great amount of time and resources. However, after being used once by the clients, the data is locked away. Allowing for public access means that the data could be reused many times over by different individuals and turned into 3D prints or could be used in virtual reality settings for explorers and guests.